Tips, Strategies, and Tricks for Shopping Second Hand from an Insider - Archived

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Guest Post by Phoenix Image Consultant, Tabitha Dumas

If you haven’t tried secondhand shopping to help build your wardrobe, I highly recommend giving it a try. I know it can seem overwhelming, intimidating or even “icky” so I hope these tips can help you navigate the secondhand shopping world.

First, change your mentality about shopping secondhand.

Secondhand shopping is anything that you didn’t buy brand new straight off the rack at the store, whether it’s a high-end consignment boutique or a charity thrift store. If you’ve been referring to yourself–or calling other people–a “thrift store shopper” or “bargain shopper,” switch to something like “savvy shopper” or “secondhand diva” to help take away the stigma.

I also give you permission to NOT tell people where you buy your clothing. If they say, “I love that scarf!” a simple “Thanks so much!” will suffice instead of, “Thanks, it was a buck at a yard sale!”

Remind yourself, too, that secondhand shopping is simply smart. You’re recycling and reusing. You’re also saving money that you can then use to buy higher-quality pieces in the timeless basics you need or statement accessories that pull an outfit together. Plus the sales from consignment stores and thrift stores often benefit a charity or organization with the money from your purchase.

Second, take a look inside your closet before you go to the store.

What pieces and outfits do you love and wear and WHY? What pieces are you NOT wearing because that blouse needs a camisole or that dress needs a belt? What fabrics, styles, colors, and patterns do you most enjoy, or do you want to try? Make a note of these things to guide you as you shop.

Third, investigate your local stores.

Most stores receive donations from the surrounding area so shop in stores located in nicer neighborhoods. Find out where they get their merchandise and when it comes in. Get to know the staff and salespeople. Learn when they have sale days, what discounts they offer, if they have online coupons and what the best days and times are to shop.

Fourth, remember that secondhand shopping is a treasure hunt.

Some days you may find 10 fabulous things and other days may be a complete miss. It takes time to learn the store.

Fifth, shop by your list. Fill in the gaps in your wardrobe.

But also remember that when you’re paying bottom dollar for items, you can experiment. Buy the wild printed blouse or the pink pants and see how it feels when you wear it. Keep in mind that you can also find classic pieces at rock bottom prices that are worth picking up, too.

Here are a few things I always look for when shopping secondhand:

  • shoes (people often wear them once for a special occasion or with a specific outfit then discard them, just check for wear and tear)
  • bags (see above)
  • belts (they’re fun but can be pricey when you buy them retail)
  • jeans (even outdated pairs can be refurbished or rolled up for a new look)
  • classic white blouses
  • classic dress pants and blazers
  • white denim jacket
  • classic denim jacket
  • cute cardigans (or whatever fun item you want to wear more of)
  • special occasion dresses (these were often worn only once)
  • scarves
  • winter coats (especially in Arizona when people don’t want to store them)
  • off-season items
  • slips (no joke–they’ve hardly changed in 25 years and you can pick them up dirt cheap)

Patience, a plan and shopping with an open mind will make you a savvy secondhand shopper in no time! Stay tuned for the next post about my favorite Phoenix valley consignment stores.

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Tabitha Dumas is an Image & Influence Strategist to women in the Phoenix valley who are ready to get noticed and live their dreams. Using a holistic approach, Tabitha offers workshops, social media tutorials, strategy sessions, and her one-of-a-kind Signature Color Experience. Start showing UP! Find out more at


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